The Imblog Post

 

12484738_980511615356240_7603305538748662218_oImbolg is a holiday close to my heart. Most of my practice does not involve deity, but to me this time of year is inextricably linked to the myth of Brigid and the Cailleach. Though I do not often engage in worship or prayer, Brigid has a special place in my heart and home. Her icons and myths resonate with me, and I take time to honor her and set a place on the altar for her.

I will not go into detail about the lore and tales of Brigid and Imbolg. There are many interpretations on this theme, and I have included some of them at the end of this post. I encourage those interested to explore these stories, read primary sources, and find their own conclusions.

Living in Wisconsin, the reminder that spring is slowly approaching is very welcome. This time of year is usually cold and dry. We get the worst storms in early spring, with our record snowfalls often being in March. It is similar to ocean squalls that herald summer in many maritime locations. The shifting axis and warming winds bring lots of fluffy precipitation with them, but that just means that we are getting closer to planting season!

In some places in the Gaelic world one might begin planting at Imbolg, but that is nigh impossible in Wisconsin — the Atlantic’s tempering presence is far from us, and a continental climate means much more dramatic winters and later frosts. What you will see, though, is plenty of gardeners ordering seeds, prepping greenhouses, and perhaps starting seed indoors for later transplanting. About January everyone gets their seed catalogs out and starts charting and fussing like broody hens. It’s quite amusing, and gives a bit of respite from the long winter.

In my house, Imblog invariably means lots of bread, beer, and cheese. Wisconsin is a lovely place for these delicacies. The Swiss and Irish immigrants have come together to create some truly unique cheeses, and our lovely German neighbors (and lots of Irish folks too) created beer empires that keep half of Milwaukee employed today. In Wisconsin one is exposed to largest factor in Imbolg — dairy. Our huge dairy industry means many folks are involved in or witness to calving season. Though modern agriculture has extended milking cycles and calving is often rotated or staggered throughout the year, many farms still have a swell of new babies and a spike in milk production around this time. In some ways, celebrating Imbolg here makes more sense than it did in Tennessee, though adding mountains would be a nice touch (I just need to move to Viroqua, honestly). Tennessee’s winters, however, are much more akin to those in the Isles, and the Scots-Irish culture there can be seen more plainly among the old folks.

My personal practices at this time are simple, but I find this appropriate for a festival so centered on the hearth and home. Though I do not have a hearth fire to re-ignite, I will light a small fire in my cauldron. After it has burnt out, the ashes are spread smoothly, and in the morning one may see marks left if Brigid has visited — traditionally this was a footprint by the fireplace. I often leave out a small cloth or ribbon (in the tradition of the brat bhríde), which is then used for blessing and protection of our home throughout the year. In the past I’ve also collected the morning dew on this cloth or wrung it into a bottle to keep.

The Brigid doll is replaced on my altar with a small ceramic figure. She is surrounded by a wreath of 6 candles, to which I add a candle each week approaching Imbolg. Joining her are some of my metalwork creations from college, during the making of which I may or may not have been praying fervently. Cutting torches are scary, folks.

Among the offerings at this time are honey, milk, beer (sometimes of multiple varieties), and homemade bread. I enjoy making a braided loaf, and this year I may even attempt to create a Brigid’s Cross out of my dough. In the past we have made bannocks, potato cakes, cornbread, and other stove-baked goods in the tradition of Scottish and Appalachian ancestors. The day is spent with my husband, feasting on bread, butter, honey, cheese, and beers, and sharing some contemplation of the time. Often I will sain and bless the house and ourselves, or create small charms of protection for the upcoming year.

What are your Imbolg traditions? Will you try anything new this year?

 

Resources for Imbolg

La Fheill Brighde — Tairis — Tairis is an amazing resource for Gaelic Recon, do take time to explore the other articles and projects for Imbolg posted here.

Oatmeal Bannock Recipe — Tairis

The Festival of Brigid the Holy Woman — Celtica Journal

Crafts for Imbolc — Unfettered Wood

The Descent of Brighde, a Hymn — Unfettered Wood

Carmina Gadelica Volumes I & II

Carminda Gadelica Volume III

The Coming of Angus and Bride

St Brigid’s Cloak

St Brigid and the Harps

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Building a Path – Part 1: Sources

When discussing sources, we must consider the word in two ways. One is the traditional understanding, of an academic source, read and cited in one’s research. The other is more broad — the source as a well from which our practice springs, or as the cornerstone upon which one’s path is built. Some paths come from a singular source, such as a religion based on a particular collection of literature, but most make use of multiple foundations and build bridges between them. My personal path, for example, takes inspiration from historical polytheism, modern interpretation of European witchcraft, and folk magic from Gaelic and Germanic settlers of Appalachia. These varied subcultures all have their own primary source materials and academic histories. Each of them is a seed from which ideas and theories of my practice have grown, but the resulting plant is a hybrid of my own creation.

Many witches or pagans create their paths in a similar way. It is important to consider what sort of seeds you are starting from and how those seeds will work together. Do you value sticking to a specific culture, honoring gods, continuing a tradition or heritage? Or basing your path more on personal values, philosophical ideals, and development of the self? Perhaps you desire a bit of both. Some sources may be difficult to combine, and will require careful thought and grafting (techno-Kemeticism, it does exist). Some grow together easily (sabbatic craft and folk magic, for example).  No matter your preference, it is essential to remember your priorities and values when seeking source materials.

I have seen many newbies (myself included) ask the question, “but how do I get started? What do I do?“.

They are frequently frustrated when met with a similar answer each time:   “I can’t tell you what to do. Each path is unique.”

I understand the frustration. Sometimes I’m surprised people still muddle through all of the conflicting information and shoddy scholarship online and in occult literature in general.

This is where discernment and critical thinking come into play. Consider if an idea is historically and factually supported, but also if it’s useful or true for you personally. That’s the tricky thing about spirituality –at the end of the day, it’s not very factual. There are very few objectively wrong or right answers.

So how do you get started?

Continue reading

A Witch on the Spectrum

I’m not entirely sure if this post is about making your witchcraft autistic

or making your autism witchy

Probably a little bit of both.

This post is for the neurodiverse witches, the spooky autistics, those on the spectrum in any manner who also pursue spiritual or witchy activities. If you’re not on the spectrum, but some of these things apply to you, that’s great! I encourage you to make use of these tips if you find them helpful, but remember to give space for autistic and otherwise neurodiverse people to explore how their neurotypes affect their craft and practice.

On to the meat!

Make Your Stims Magical

  • Incorporate Energy into Hand Flaps
    Many spiritual and magical traditions include blessing or crossing gestures. You can position the hands or fingers in these ways, or you can impart your flaps with energy and intent all your own. Each movement can add energy to a wish or spell, adding up to a lot of collected force through the day!
  • Add Chants and Charms to Verbal Stims
    Memorizing prayers, charms, or mantras can give you accessible verbal stims to use in many situations. Using echolalia to add charms to spells or enchant things on the fly is also a possibility. Even if the words or sounds are ‘made up,’ they can have meaning based on your intent, mood, or will.
  • Use Amulets and Charms in Tactile Stimming
    Rabbit’s feet, fabric pouches, smooth worry-stones, coins, and enchanted jewelry are all wonderful opportunities to sneak magic (or stims) into your daily life. Even a non-magical stim toy can be enchanted to have a certain effect when played with. Many magical tools are designed to be used in this manner anyway, especially coins, stones, crystals, amulets, and glamored jewelry.
  • Doodle Your Intent
    If you stim by doodling and drawing or enjoy creating regular shapes and patterns, drawing sigils, wards, mandalas, or other magical symbols can help focus your mind, and the unique energy of stimming can be a great way to charge your magical doodles, sigils, or signs.

Enchant Your Safe Space

  • Ward Your Bubble
    I know I’m not the only little neuroweird nerd who has a cuddle corner tucked somewhere quiet. Make it special by adding magical protection, isolating spells, and any other charms and wards to keep people, noises, lights, and icky things out, as well as creating feelings of comfort and safety within.
  • Decorate With Charm
    Banners, flags, signs, plaques, and icons can add a safe and familiar touch to a hidey hole, while also boosting the warding and comforting effects of other spells. String lights, tapestry, night lights, charmed blankets, and even those little glow-in-the-dark sticky stars are perfect for both ambiance and magical goodness.
  • Take Your Safe Space With You
    Snip a corner off of your favorite blankie. Make one of the decorative crystals into a necklace. Take a baby bubble of warding with you when you leave your cozy corner. Let the safe space be a charging station for your spiritual and mental batteries, but have a portable battery pack that comes with you when you leave.

Tailor Your Magic

  • Meditation or Visualization
    It might seem obvious to some, but the emphasis that both pagan and mainstream culture puts on empty-mind meditation often leads practitioners to forget about the varied types of meditation that would be better for many people. While empty-mind meditation can be good for some, there are other options that aren’t always discussed. If you have trouble with visualizing images, try meditation that uses numbers, chants, or physical movement. If you have a vivid imagination, try visualizing or journey-work instead of rigid meditation that focuses on only one thing, or no things. Stimming can be incorporated into repetitive motion meditation. The list goes on. Just because empty-mind is the most well-known meditation technique, that doesn’t mean you should try to force yourself into it if it doesn’t work for you.
  • Play to Your Strengths
    Similar to the above — incorporate your special interests into your work, and keep your learning style in mind when creating spells. I personally love identifying plants and understanding the science of their components. Herbalism is an obvious choice for me, and I use it not only for literal medical purposes, but for analogous magical purposes. If you are a math genius, look into numberology, sigil making, and other structured magical paths. If you love art, make your paintings into spells, decorate everything you can get your hands on. This is good advice for any magic worker, but even more pertinent for those on the spectrum. We often have un-balanced/very specialized skill sets or interests, as well as issues with rigid thinking. This can result in a very square peg that thinks the only possible hole is round. Remember that magic and witchcraft come in infinitely varied forms, and creating your own techniques is valid and useful.
  • Divination via Association
    Some folks use Tarot, some use runes or symbols. If you’re a person who experiences synesthesia, or who assigns meaning to certain objects or images, these can be incorporated into a divination system quite effectively.

There are probably many more tips and tricks out there, and I’d love to hear from you if you have some! Neurodiversity is often a neglected topic in the pagan or witchy community, but if your path isn’t tailored to fit your needs then it can be very frustrating and isolating. Autistic witches are out there, and we’ve got some pretty neat stories to tell.

Updates

Happy Walpurgisnacht! And impending Bealtuinn

The Resources page has been updated with a few primary source websites — if you like free books, folklore, and public domain information, check it out!

Also, if there are posts or resources you would like to see, send me suggestions! I am putting together a  post schedule for future topics, and I’d love to know what my readers are interested in learning.

Changes to my Divination Services

Copyright SkullGarden & A.L. Swartz not my image!

 

I am now offering readings using the Wooden Tarot deck, created by A.L. Swartz of SkullGarden. All Tarot listings in the shop now have an option for “Wooden Tarot” in the drop-down menu when you check out.

His work can be found here http://www.skullgarden.net/

And also here https://www.etsy.com/shop/skullgardenshop

And is fantastic and I strongly recommend checking out his Etsy shop and sending him all of the monies.


 

Secondly, a not-quite-as-exciting announcement: I will be discontinuing the smaller readings after overwhelmingly negative feedback. I am concerned that the $3 Tarot and $1 rune readings are attracting customers who only want immediate gratification and ~happy-sparkle-love-and-light~ readings. Almost every single negative review I have is for a 3 card Tarot reading. All of my other readings get nothing but positive reviews. I think that customers are expecting much more than they are paying for when they buy these small readings, and I no longer wish to mislead my customers or encourage the sort of disrespectful behavior that I have encountered with certain clients.

That being said, if you are still interested in a smaller reading, you are welcome to request a custom order on Etsy or a private order via email.


 

I will also no longer be offering phone or Skype readings, as they are a strain on myself and my clients’ schedules. That, and often phone signal and bad video quality interrupt what would otherwise be a good reading. I’ve found that I do best when I can type instead of talk, and that way my clients receive a concrete message that they can copy, save, or print out for their records.

In person readings are still available, of course, for those in the area.

 

If there are any questions, concerns, or further suggestions for the shop, do feel free to contact me at witchys.crafts2@gmail.com

 

 

Updates and an Equinox SALE!

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I’ve been busy busy in a tizzy recently! Lots of orders (thank you all!) lots of projects, a very short ‘vacation’ and job searching! Oh lordy so many things. Lots of personal changes, almost all of them for the better, and lots of new things for everyone.

 

Now the fun part: Autumn Equinox Sale! Use code “AUTUMN14” at checkout for 21% off any purchase over $10. This coupon code is valid for the entire month of September.

 

My brain is full of ideas and schemes for new blog posts and possibly even some new blogs. Nothing is for sure, but there are ideas floating everywhere. I think the new organization, The Nemeton, might deserve a blog of its own. We shall see what time brings!